Monday, November 5, 2012

Planting the Seeds of Gratefulness in Children

Teaching our preschooler to be grateful is become an increasing challenge for us. The other day we took her out for doughnuts followed by a stop at the supermarket. While leaving the supermarket, she began to cry "But, I didn't get anything!!" My husband and  I could not believe our ears. "How could she be so ungrateful!? Just a few minutes ago she had been enjoying her pink doughnut ( a very rare treat)!"

We do understand that she is 3 years old and that developmentally preschoolers can be very egocentric and mostly relate to the here and now. However, we are committed to planting the seeds of gratefulness into our children and watch their appreciation blossom steadily over time. 

Grateful children understand the efforts of others to do things for them and are more empathetic to others. "A 2003 study at the University of California at Davis showed that grateful people report higher levels of happiness and optimism -- along with lower levels of depression and stress" (

Here are some tips to help instill thankfulness in ourselves and our children:
  • Express your gratefulness frequently. Have your children hear you say things like "Wow what a beautiful day!, I'm so happy to spend the day with you!, We are so lucky to have such a great family!" Daily prayers are an ideal place to verbalize thankfulness
  • Give your children responsibility. We appreciate things more when we have to work for them. With appropriate "jobs" given to children they will realize the effort that goes into the things we do for them and hopefully appreciate them more.
  • Become active members of a goodwill project. Unfortunately, with the devastation brought on by Hurricane Sandy there are countless opportunities to give back. We have been given the opportunity to bring water to the elderly in high risers with no power, cooked food to people who had to evacuate, and warm winter clothes to children living in homes with no heat. I mention these only to show how simple it can be to give back. Having your kids active in these deeds will help them empathize for others and be sensitive to the needs of others. All things truly grateful people can do.
I would love to hear what others are doing to increase a sense of appreciation in their homes:

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